Employee Commitment in Times of Change: Management Journal

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Employee Commitment in Times of Change:
Assessing the Importance of Attitudes Toward
Organizational Change†
Steven M. Elias*
Department of Psychology, Auburn University Montgomery, Montgomery, AL Organizations are dynamic and changing entities. Variables associated with organizational change have been shown to serve as mediators of several individual difference variable/workrelated outcome relationships. This study examines three potential antecedents of 258 police officers’ attitudes toward organizational change (ATOC), and whether ATOC mediates the relationships between these antecedents and affective organizational commitment (AOC). At the time of data collection, the officers’ police department was restructuring its organizational design. Structural equation modeling indicates the growth need strength/AOC relationship is fully mediated, whereas the focus of control/AOC and internal work motivation/AOC relationships are partially mediated by ATOC. Implications and directions for future research are discussed. Keywords: attitudes toward change; organizational change; organizational commitment The body of literature dedicated to the understanding of organizational change is impressive, and given that organizations continue to make adjustments and modifications at amazing rates, we are sure to see much more research in this area. Noteworthy is the fact that until recently much of the research focusing on issues relevant to organizational change has focused on organizational-level concerns rather than individual-level concerns (Judge, Thoresen, Pucik, 1

†The author gratefully acknowledges the thoughtful comments of Russell Cropanzano and the manuscript’s anonymous reviewers.
*Corresponding Author: Tel.: 334-244-3349; Fax: 334-244-3826 E-mail: selias@mail.aum.edu
Journal of Management, Vol. XX No. X, Month XXXX xx-xx
DOI: 10.1177/0149206307308910
© 2007 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Journal of Management OnlineFirst, published on October 26, 2007 as doi:10.1177/0149206307308910 Copyright 2007 by Southern Management Association.

& Welbourne, 1999; Vakola, Tsaousis, & Nikolaou, 2003; Wanberg & Banas, 2000). Indeed, of the four articles dedicated to organizational change that have appeared in the Journal of Management’s Yearly Review series (Armenakis & Bedeian, 1999; Pasmore & Fagans, 1992; Sashkin & Burke, 1987; Woodman, 1989), each has placed somewhat greater emphasis on macro-, rather than microlevel, issues. Although it is true that researchers have made advances in the understanding of microlevel issues, there is still much to be learned. For example, though we have gained some insight into how organizational change affects organizational commitment, we are still lacking in information regarding how these variables may function together (Fedor, Caldwell, & Herold, 2006). However, because organizational change serves as an antecedent of organizational commitment, and commitment is important to organizational functioning, further research in this area is warranted (Coleman, Irving, & Cooper, 1999). Of great importance is that organizational change strains not only the organization as a whole but also individual employees within the organization (Vakola & Nikolaou, 2005). In fact, if an organization is to successfully implement change, a change strategy must be developed that takes the employees’ psychological processes into account. A failure to take such processes into account may very well result in the change initiative failing (Deloitte & Touche, 2005). Furthermore, implementing a change initiative without attending to such processes can result in employees experiencing stress and cynicism, each of which has the potential to reduce organizational commitment, job satisfaction, trust in the organization, and motivation (Reichers, Wanous, & Austin, 1997; Rush, Schoel, & Barnard, 1995; Schweiger & DeNisi, 1991).

At this point, the key question becomes, “What psychological processes should...
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